Sunday September 22, 2019
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Critically Endangered Pacific Northwest Orcas Welcome New Born Calf

One whale drew international attention when she carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days last summer. 

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Orcas
This September 2015 photo from NOAA Fisheries shows an adult female orca and her calf, in Washington state's Puget Sound. Researchers reported Jan. 11, 2019, that there's a new calf among killer whales that live in the waters between Washington state and Canada. VOA

Researchers say there’s a new calf among the population of critically endangered killer whales that live in the waters between Washington state and Canada.

Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, told The Seattle Times that staff first saw the calf Friday at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

He said the youngster looks healthy, but survival rates for baby orcas are only about 50 percent.

Pilot whales
Orca

The whales have been starving amid a dearth of salmon. Vessel noise and pollution have complicated their plight. No calf born in the last three years has survived.

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One whale drew international attention when she carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days last summer.
Two other orcas are known to be sick, and researchers fear they could die within months. (VOA)

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Environmental and Animal Rights Groups Suing Trump Administration Over Changes to Endangered Species Act

They charge the administration with breaking the law by announcing changes to the implementation of the landmark act

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Endangered Species, Environmental, Animal
A monarch butterfly rests on a plant at Abbott's Mill Nature Center in Milford, Del. Seven environmental and animal protection groups teamed up to file the first lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's rollback of the Endangered Species Act. VOA

Seven environmental and animal rights groups are suing the Trump administration for its regulations that would make drastic changes to the implementation of the Endangered Species Act.

The environmental law group Earthjustice filed the joint suit Wednesday in San Francisco.

They charge the administration with breaking the law by announcing changes to the implementation of the landmark act without first analyzing the effects the changes would have.

“In the midst of an unprecedented extinction crisis, the Trump administration is eviscerating our most effective wildlife protection law,” the National Resources Defense Council said. “These regulatory changes will place vulnerable species in immediate danger – all to line the pockets of industry. We are counting on the courts to step in before it is too late.”

Endangered Species, Environmental, Animal
Seven environmental and animal rights groups are suing the Trump administration for its regulations that would make drastic changes to the implementation. Pixabay

An Interior Department spokesman responded by saying “We will see them in court and we will be steadfast in our implementation of this important act with the unchanging goal of conserving and recovering species.”

Attorneys general from two states — California and Massachusetts — also say they will sue.

Environmentalists credit the 1973 Endangered Species Act with saving numerous animals, plants and other species from extinction.

About 1,600 species are currently protected by the act and the administration says streamlining regulations is the best way to ensure they will stay protected.

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“The revisions finalized with this rule-making fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week.

The finalized changes include requiring consideration of economic cost when deciding whether to save a species from extinction. The law currently says the cost to logging or oil interests will have no bearing on whether an animal or other species deserves protection.

The revised regulations would also end blanket protection for a species listed as threatened, a designation that is one step away from declaring it endangered, and reduce some wildlife habitat.

Conservation and wildlife groups call the changes U.S. President Donald Trump’s gift to logging, ranching, and oil industries, saying they take a bulldozer through protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife.

Endangered Species, Environmental, Animal
The environmental law group Earthjustice filed the joint suit Wednesday in San Francisco. Pixabay

A number of congressional Democrats have also denounced the changes, including New York Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,

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Republican President Richard Nixon signed the act into law in 1973 as part of the response to the new environmental awareness sweeping the country in the early 1970s, which included Earth Day and the Clear Water and Air acts. (VOA)